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Public Works Partners is offering an online course for workforce development service providers on using social media to connect with participants and increase program outcomes. This is the last of an 8 part series:

  1. Why Social Media?
  2. Making social media a part of your overall participant engagement strategy
  3. Deciding which social network to use to interact with participants
  4. Using Facebook groups, pages, and/or profiles to interact with participants
  5. Deciding what to post to social media (and how to do it)
  6. Building your audience
  7. Measuring the impact of social media on your outcomes
  8. Teaching participants how to use social media

Welcome back to Social Media for Workforce Development! Throughout this series, we’ve focused on how your program staff can use social media to better engage program participants and ultimately improve outcomes. In this last entry, we’re going to approach this topic from a different angle: teaching participants how to use social media.

Given the specific expertise your staff has on social media, and the general need to teach program participants work readiness skills, it often makes a lot of sense for workforce programs to coach participants on how to use social media in the context of their career development. Most participants won’t need help with the basics of posting photos and status updates, but some might need guidance on how to use social media as a tool for finding a job, as well as how to keep their social media activity from preventing them from finding a job.

LinkedIn_logo_initialsHelping participants setup and use LinkedIn is becoming a common practice in the field, and we encourage programs to consider providing this service. Although LinkedIn doesn’t have universal penetration across all sectors and skill levels, it remains the single most popular place for companies to research individuals before hiring. This alone makes it important for participants to have a LinkedIn profile that highlights their strengths. Workforce programs can make a huge difference for participants with a small amount of targeted content guidance, proofreading, and explanation of the unwritten rules and behavioral norms. Programs can promote the usage of LinkedIn by creating private groups for participants to communicate among each other and with program staff.

facebook-iconAnother common practice we’ve seen is advising participants on how to use Facebook in a way that won’t jeopardize their employment prospects. This can be a touchy subject, since most people consider their Facebook content to be “private” (even though it may be exposed to the world) and program participants don’t want to feel like program staff are interfering with their private lives. Nevertheless, the risk that a compromising photograph or unprofessional username (facebook.com/partygirrrrlxoxoxo) can kill a candidate’s chances at landing a job is absolutely real. Program staff giving this advice should be careful not to call out individuals and not to come off as parental or condescending. Keep this in mind when determining which staff are best positioned to provide this advise, and give them plenty of guidance on how to go about doing so.

There are countless other ways that workforce programs can provide their participants with advice in this area, but we feel like these two are the most impactful and relevant. If participants leave your program with a useful LinkedIn profile and a benign Facebook profile, then you’ve given them two concrete, useful assets for their professional lives that will benefit them for years.

This concludes our Social Media for Workforce Development series, but given the ever-changing nature of social media and the newness of these practices, we want to keep the conversation going! We’d love to hear you feedback, questions, and best practices from the field. Comment on this blog post or contact us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or our Facebook page.